Cycling: Orica-BikeExchange buoyed by 2017 Tour route

Fri Oct 21, 2016 12:47am EDT
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By Ian Ransom

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Australian pro cycling team Orica-BikeExchange believes Team Sky's stranglehold over the Tour de France may be loosened by the unconventional 2017 route and are relishing the prospect of a battle of "aggression" on the road.

The course unveiled this week, which starts in Duesseldorf on July 1 and ends in Paris on July 23, is peppered with a number of steep climbs occurring early in stages.

Organizers hope it will reward attacking riders and prevent top teams like Sky and Movistar from locking down stages with tactical group riding.

Sky's meticulous organization has propelled champion Chris Froome to the title in three of the last four races and prompted criticism that cycling's showpiece has become a dull spectacle.

But Orica-BikeExchange sport director Matt White is optimistic the new route will bring badly needed suspense back to the Tour.

"I like it. Obviously, I'm thinking of it greedily for us and our particular team but it couldn't be much better," the 42-year-old Australian told Reuters in an interview.

"The style of riding will have to be aggressive. It's hard against some of the teams like Team Sky and Movistar who can control the race quite well.

"But there will be certain times and stages where we can get stuck into it."   Continued...

Cyclists from Orica-Bike Exchange compete in Men's Team Time Trial in the UCI Road World Championships 2016, in Doha, Qatar October 9, 2016. REUTERS/Naseem Zeitoon